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The Wish by Nicholas Sparks

1996 was the year that changed everything for Maggie Dawes. Sent away at sixteen to live with an aunt she barely knew in Ocracoke, a remote village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, she could think only of the friends and family she left behind . . . until she met Bryce Trickett, one of the few teenagers on the island. Handsome, genuine, and newly admitted to West Point, Bryce showed her how much there was to love about the wind-swept beach town—and introduced her to photography, a passion that would define the rest of her life.

By 2019, Maggie is a renowned travel photographer. She splits her time between running a successful gallery in New York and photographing remote locations around the world. But this year she is unexpectedly grounded over Christmas, struggling to come to terms with a sobering medical diagnosis. Increasingly dependent on a young assistant, she finds herself becoming close to him.

As they count down the last days of the season together, she begins to tell him the story of another Christmas, decades earlier—and the love that set her on a course she never could have imagined.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter--the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger--and their true enemy--closer...

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

If you have ever said any of these things to yourself . . .

  • Something else will make me happy.
  • I’m not a good mom.
  • I will never get past this.
  • I am defined by my weight.
  • I should be further along by now.

. . . then you could benefit from the unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity Rachel Hollis has in store for you. In this challenging but conversational book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

Rachel is real and talks about real issues. More than that, she reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be. Because you really can live with passion and hustle – and give yourself grace without giving up.

The Bones of Paradise by Jonis Agee

The award-winning author of The River Wife returns with a multigenerational family saga set in the unforgiving Nebraska Sand Hills in the years following the massacre at Wounded Knee—an ambitious tale of history, vengeance, race, guilt, betrayal, family, and belonging, filled with a vivid cast of characters shaped by violence, love, and a desperate loyalty to the land.

Ten years after the Seventh Cavalry massacred more than two hundred Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, J.B. Bennett, a white rancher, and Star, a young Native American woman, are murdered in a remote meadow on J.B.’s land. The deaths bring together the scattered members of the Bennett family: J.B.’s cunning and hard father, Drum; his estranged wife, Dulcinea; and his teenage sons, Cullen and Hayward. As the mystery of these twin deaths unfolds, the history of the dysfunctional Bennetts and their damning secrets is revealed, exposing the conflicted heart of a nation caught between past and future.

At the center of The Bones of Paradise are two remarkable women. Dulcinea, returned after bitter years of self-exile, yearns for redemption and the courage to mend her broken family and reclaim the land that is rightfully hers. Rose, scarred by the terrible slaughters that have decimated and dislocated her people, struggles to accept the death of her sister, Star, and refuses to rest until she is avenged.

A kaleidoscopic portrait of misfits, schemers, chancers, and dreamers, Jonis Agee’s bold novel is a panorama of America at the dawn of a new century. A beautiful evocation of this magnificent, blood-soaked land—its sweeping prairies, seas of golden grass, and sandy hills, all at the mercy of two unpredictable and terrifying forces, weather and lawlessness—and the durable men and women who dared to tame it. Intimate and epic, The Bones of Paradise is a remarkable achievement: a mystery, a tragedy, a romance, and an unflagging exploration of the beauty and brutality, tenderness and cruelty that defined the settling of the American West.

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

1950: Margaret Devonshire (Megs) is a seventeen-year-old student of mathematics and physics at Oxford University. When her beloved eight-year-old brother asks Megs if Narnia is real, logical Megs tells him it’s just a book for children, and certainly not true. Homebound due to his illness, and remaining fixated on his favorite books, George presses her to ask the author of the recently released novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe a question: “Where did Narnia come from?”

Despite her fear about approaching the famous author, who is a professor at her school, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with C.S. Lewis and his own brother Warnie, begging them for answers.

Rather than directly telling her where Narnia came from, Lewis encourages Megs to form her own conclusion as he slowly tells her the little-known stories from his own life that led to his inspiration. As she takes these stories home to George, the little boy travels father in his imagination than he ever could in real life.

Lewis’s answers will reveal to Megs and her family many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.

 
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